BMW ‘Art Cars’ set for display at Miami Beach show

Roy Lichtenstein painted the Art Car in his signature comic-book style | BMW
Roy Lichtenstein painted the Art Car in his signature comic-book style | BMW

Two of BMW’s legendary “Art Cars” that blend high-performance with fine art will be on display December 3-7 during Art Basel`s international gallery show at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

The one-of-a-kind, hand-painted cars – a BMW 320 race car by famed American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein (1977) and a BMW M3 by Australian aboriginal artist Michael Jagamara Nelson (1989) – will be shown in Art Basel’s Collectors Lounge at the convention center.

The Lichtenstein car is the third of 17 Art Cars created for BMW racers | BMW
The Lichtenstein car is the third of 17 BMW Art Cars | BMW

The Art Cars are two of 17 special BMW vehicles that have been painted during the past four decades by some of the world’s most renowned modern artists, such as Alexander Calder, Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenberg, Jenny Holzer, Olafur Eliasson and Jeff Koons.

Roy Lichtenstein painted the third vehicle in the BMW Art Car Collection, a BMW 320 Group 5 race car, in 1977. The colorful pop-art landscape, which reflects his famous comic-strip style, depicts the surroundings flashing by from the driver’s point of view.

“I wanted the lines I painted to be a depiction of the road showing the car where to go,” Lichtenstein, who died in 1997, said at the time. “The design also shows the countryside through which the car has travelled. One could call it an enumeration of everything a car experiences – only that this car reflects all of these things before actually having been on a road.”

The Nelson car draws from aboriginal art works | BMW
The Nelson car draws from aboriginal art works | BMW

Australian artist Michael Jagamara Nelson said he chose the depiction of nature from an aerial view for the design of his Art Car, a BMW M3 Group A racer, which is covered in dreamlike shapes and patterns drawn from ancestral Papunya art. The geometric shapes appear to be abstract until one sees that they reveal such native creatures as kangaroos and emus.

“(The) car is a landscape as it would be seen from a plane – I have included water, the kangaroo and the opossum,” said Nelson, a leader in the Papunya-Tula art movement. His groundbreaking work includes a large mosaic that stands in front of the Australian parliament building in Canberra and an impressive wall at the Sydney Opera House.

Art Basel is a celebration of modern art in all its forms, with shows held around the world featuring a wide assortment of galleries and artists. Started in Basel, Switzerland, the art show series is headquartered in Basel, Miami Beach and Hong Kong.

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